Georgia: Business is on Our Mind
Back in February, Governor Nathan Deal declared this week Georgia Small Business Week. Georgia’s entrepreneurial spirit and thriving small business environment are just a couple reasons the state is a great place for business owners. As we celebrate Georgia Small Business Week, let’s look at some of the reasons Georgia was voted the best state in the nation for business for the past 4 years.
Why Do Businesses Love Georgia?
Without a doubt, Georgia is the most entrepreneurial and small business-focused place I have experienced during my time with the Small Business Administration (SBA). A high percentage of the people I encounter, even “off the clock,” have a business idea, are in the process of starting a business, or have an established business. Others have “side businesses” in addition to their regular 9-to-5 jobs.
Statistics confirm these casual observations. Almost 95% of the state’s businesses have fewer than 50 employees with 78% employing 5 or fewer individuals. So what makes Georgia such fertile ground for entrepreneurs and small business owners? It comes down to 3 key pieces:
- Dynamic demographics
- A growing economy
- Support from public policy
A Changing Population
Between 1990 and 2016, Georgia’s population grew from roughly 6.5 million to 10.3 million. That’s a 58.5% increase! While much of that growth is concentrated in the metro-Atlanta area, other cities such as Savannah, Columbus, and Augusta have seen notable growth as well. A growing population creates higher demand for goods and services. And growing consumer demand means more opportunities for small businesses.
Big Business Spurs Small Business
It’s not just the consumers who need small businesses. Georgia’s strong corporate and government presence creates market niches for small businesses. There are 18 Fortune 500 companies and 30 Fortune 1000 companies headquartered in Georgia. These large companies need goods and services themselves to support their enterprises and business-to-business opportunities. Similarly, federal military installations and civilian agencies approach small businesses for goods and services to support their missions.
The state has key economic generators which spur opportunities for business ownership and entrepreneurship.
There are the obvious ones – Hartsfield-Jackson Atlanta International Airport, the world’s busiest airport, and the Port of Savannah, the fastest growing port in the country. These facilities help build the state’s economic infrastructure, drawing existing companies to the state and encouraging new ventures.
Apart from these popular facilities, other industries are attracting businesses of all types throughout the state. Georgia’s thriving TV and film industry requires industry-related services. Evolution of the agritourism sector is creating new businesses in rural Georgia.
Additionally, Georgia hosts approximately 185 colleges, universities, and technical schools throughout the state. These institutions attract and foster a population with the education, skills, creativity, and drive to start and operate their own business ventures. With tracks ranging from “lifestyle” to traditional businesses, and from creative arts to high-growth tech companies, Georgia’s students are leading us into a bright future.
The Right Environment
Finally, Georgia consistently receives high marks for a pro-business environment. We have lower taxes and regulatory requirements, lower cost of living, and higher quality of life than other states. The state and local governments include entrepreneurship along with business development, recruitment, and retention in their economic development policies.
These forces all come together to make Georgia a big state for small business.
Work With Us
Thinking about starting a business in Georgia? Check out how the U.S. Small Business Administration in Georgia can help your business at every step.
About the Author:
Terri Denison is Georgia District Director for the U.S. Small Business Administration. In this role since May 2002, she is responsible for overseeing the implementation of the SBA’s financing, counseling/training and federal contracting programs for small businesses throughout Georgia.